Pete McLeod emerged as one of the top Red Bull Air Race pilots in only his third year of competition, 2014, with three podiums including a career-first victory in Las Vegas. The Canadian had already rewritten history in 2009, when he became the World Championship series' youngest pilot at age 25, and the Vegas triumph made him the youngest race winner at 30. One of the most popular aviation figures in Canada, McLeod thrilled his fans in 2017 by winning the DHL Fastest Lap award, which he claimed by taking the top spot in Qualifying on four occasions. McLeod is still waiting for his second win, but was so close in 2017. He had four podiums in the races including three second place finishes.
McLeod can't remember a time when he didn't know how to fly. Airborne at six weeks old, he first clutched the controls atop his father's knee at age three and got his private pilot's licence at 16. He was an accomplished bush pilot even before pursuing aerobatics as an 18-year-old, earning his aerobatic instructor rating in less than a year. Following successes including the North American Collegiate Championship (while earning an economics degree from the University of Western Ontario), McLeod competed in classical aerobatics internationally before switching his focus to racing.
The maverick from Canada always flies his own way, with a typically hard-charging style that turns the World Championship into a wide-open battle when he upsets longtime favourites in the head-to-head heats. In the past, McLeod's all-or-nothing flying could see him on the podium or plagued with penalties, but since the 2016 season he has dialed in the fine balance between aggression and restraint. This lead to him claiming his first overall podium finish when he claimed third.